Posts Tagged Gregg Zaun

Thoughts on Friday Night’s Yankees-Sox Game (4/11 Roundup)

I only caught one game in full on Friday night, and it was the first meeting of the season between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. For lack of anything better to write about, I’ll just throw out my thoughts on the Bronx Bombers’ 4-1 win.

First of all, as far as Yankees-Red Sox games go, this one was pretty much a stinker. I’m not looking to take anything away from Chien-Ming Wang’s performance tonight, because the dude was dealing for most of the game (namely every inning besides the fifth). But Boston helped him out too by going after him early in the count. I have to imagine that it was in the scouting report to jump on Wang early (yikes), but one would think that the team would try to make some adjustments to that strategy after failing to put anything resembling a strong offensive effort together at any point in the early innings.

It’s ridiculous that Wang only had to throw 93 pitches to record 27 outs against the Red Sox. I’m not the biggest fan of (…wow, almost walked right into that one. How shall I put this?…) the Korean right-hander. I tend to think he’s a little overrated by the Yankee fanbase and upper management (Brian Cashman is fond of comparing him to Brandon Webb), and that much of his game relies on luck. Still, a sinkerballer who eats as many innings as Wang does is a huge asset to have over the course of the season. There isn’t a team in the Major Leagues that wouldn’t happily take 200 innings of an ERA under 4, even if much of that success is reliant upon infield defense. (That reminds me, I loved Joe Girardi’s decision to plug defensive specialist Alberto Gonzalez in at shortstop behind Wang in place of the injured Jeter.)

Interestingly, of the 24 outs Wang recorded by getting Red Sox hitters to put the ball in play, 14 came on fly balls. I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. Wang consistently finds himself near the top of the league in ground ball percentage thanks to his turbo sinker. It’s possible that this, too, may have been in the scouting report for Boston. Of course, I may also just be overthinking this. It’s entirely possible the Sox were just overmatched. That certainly looked to be the case with Big Papi, who was downright painful to watch.

(For the record, and I’m going to keep myself from going off on a tangent here, it’s my belief that the best way to beat pitchers like Wang, Webb or Carmona is to stack a lineup with as many speed guys as possible, even if it’s at the expense of guys with better on-base percentages. Within reason, of course. [I remember being frustrated that the Mets, who were well equipped to execute this strategy last year with Reyes, Wright, Beltran, Carlos Gomez and Luis Castillo all on the roster, went with their standard lineup and lost to Wang on a Sunday night game last season.] Maybe I’ll try doing a study on this scenario the road and see if I’m wrong. If nothing else, it piques my interest.)

Getting back to my original point, the game was close early on, but for me, it never really seemed all that exciting. The Fenway crowd was pretty dead, almost from the first pitch, and there just wasn’t a lot of energy displayed by anyone throughout the game. It was very weird for the first game of the year between “the greatest rivals in sports.”

One other thing I’ll throw out there is how great Coco Crisp’s defense in center field is. He was putting on a clinic tonight. Unfortunately, that was one of the only bright spots for the Sox.

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